The political forces within the EU pushing for regression towards environmental oblivion remain strong, clutching on the “rapid economic development at all costs” political mantra. The European Commission’s initiative to open the heart of Europe’s nature protection legislation and surgically “refit” it for growth-as-usual has been the culmination of a series of likeminded efforts that seriously undermine the Union’s profile as a global leader in green policies. At the national level, a number of member states have launched an offensive on their environmental acquis: in its annual law review, WWF Greece sheds light on the environmentally catastrophic policies of two different Greek governments, whereas a few months ago green groups called for a halt on Spain’s environmental rollback. Along the same lines, Poland recently vetoed its compliance with the Doha amendment to the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, thus signaling its intensified political orientation towards undermining the EU’s action on climate change.
In stark contrast to their political leaders, the people of Europe apparently remain on environmental alert. On the road to the 21st UN Climate Summit taking place from 30 November to 11 December in Paris, thousands of global citizens prepare to take to the streets of major cities in a peaceful green revolution, urging governments to agree on an ambitious global deal that will save the planet from the worst impacts of climate change. A few months ago, Europe saw its historically first massive participation in a public consultation on EU policies: over 520,000 people supported the protection and better implementation of the Union’s key nature conservation laws. In the same spirit, over 80% of Europe’s citizens state their serious concern about biodiversity loss and support the need for inclusion of biodiversity protection into global trade policies.
It is high time for Europe’s leaders to see the green writing on the wall and use the current crisis as an opportunity for much needed change towards long-term sustainable economies.
Theodota Nantsou, Head of policy, WWF Greece